LOS ANGELES -- Better Things isn't exactly what you'd call a salon prive. Its door is open to anyone who cares to stop by, but the number of people who stumble upon it is pretty slim.
Nestled above Art Luna's ivy-covered beauty salon on a narrow residential street in the hills of West Hollywood, the tiny shop -- barely 150 square feet -- is somewhat of a hidden treasure. And that's exactly the way its owner, Jamie Tisch, wants it.
As one half of a charismatic Hollywood couple -- her husband is producer Steve -- Tisch cuts a striking figure in the sun-filled, whitewashed space.
"This all started as an extension of my house," she says, as her hand grazes through a giant glass jar of Jelly Bellys set on an antique table in the center of the store. "I'm sorry, I'm obsessed with the red ones."
Tisch, a notorious gift-giver, had stocked her Benedict Canyon home with goodies like Petit Bateau T-shirts and Matthias candles for years, when finally the clutter had gotten the best of her. One day, over a highlighting session downstairs, Luna convinced her to set up shop in the salon's old makeup studio upstairs.
"It all happened over a handshake," Tisch recalled. "Nothing too serious."
Weeks later, she had shelves built, sea grass laid down and some of her spare furniture moved in. Two weeks before Christmas, she was in business, and soon, all her friends became her customers. "I actually sold out of stuff in two weeks," she said. "And I thought, 'That's it, I'm going to have to close the store."'
Instead, she reordered handblown Czech glassware, Frou handbags, canvas totes and Inca linen pajamas. She also added some Hamptons flea-market finds to the mix, like sterling silver cigar boxes and Hermes measuring cups. She's even attempted to take a tentative step into the fashion arena (she once worked for a now-defunct dress line).
"The girls downstairs said I should get Seven jeans, so I bought 22 pairs and all my friends took them before I could get them to the store," she wailed.Between taking care of three small children, two teenage stepchildren and fund-raising for some of the biggest charities in town, Tisch craves the escape to "my little retreat" for a few hours each day. "One person said it was like lots of great hors d'oeuvres and no main course," she said.
Almost everything in the store is something the Tuscaloosa, Ala., native already owns, with the exception of the elephant and frog-shaped silver place card holders. "I never do place cards in my house."
The only bit of unfinished business is a sign for the store. "That was Steve's project. He ordered one, and it came back with neon green lettering. Now I'm not sure if I want one." With the financial woes that have plagued retailers of late, Tisch mused: "It's probably not the best time to open a store, but there will always be a lot of women in foil up here."
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